BEDMINSTER, NJ — The American Cancer Society today announced that Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest wireless provider, is the first company in the nation to offer the Society's tobacco cessation services in worksites across the country to help employees quit smoking and prevent productivity loss, absenteeism and increased health care costs associated with tobacco-related illness.
"The cigarette tax increases in many parts of the country are motivating smokers to quit," said Donald Distasio, Chief Executive Officer, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ. "By bringing tobacco cessation to the workplace, we can meet the increased demand for help in a convenient location, reach large groups of people and help a visionary company like Verizon Wireless to create a healthy work environment and reduce cancer risk among employees."
Verizon Wireless employees have been trained by American Cancer Society experts to offer smoking cessation support programs at select company locations nationwide*. Verizon Wireless smoking cessation counselors are also featured in a public billboard campaign to encourage other corporations to follow Verizon Wireless's leadership in providing on-site resources to help employees who choose to quit smoking. The billboards, "Smokefree Facilities. Smokefree Employees.", are up on heavily traveled roads in Jersey City on Kennedy Boulevard and at Routes 130 and 33 in Hamilton, N.J. until October 2002.
"We care about employees' health and we believe this program can help those who want to stop using tobacco products," said Head Coach Mark Monteyne, who oversees the Verizon Wireless Health and Wellness program. "This is one of the many benefits we offer our employees - from outstanding health and wellness programs to excellent medical benefits and compensation. It's yet another reason that Verizon Wireless is a great place to work."
"According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use costs $100 billion per year in health care expenditures and is responsible for one of every five deaths in the United States - 430,000 per year. A 1999 Towers Perrin study also reported that annual employee costs are $1,500 higher for employees who smoke due to lost productivity, absenteeism and health care," Mr. Distasio said. "We are eager to work with companies like Verizon Wireless to help develop policies that create a healthy workplace environment. Programs such as Verizon Wireless' tobacco cessation service further helps employees who are trying to quit by providing them with a setting where they are not tempted to relapse."
The American Cancer Society is working to replicate similar projects with other large employers across the country to bring up-to-date information on cancer prevention, detection and treatment to employees at their workplace. The goal of the program is to work with employers to promote healthy lifestyle choices that can reduce cancer risk and increase the number of people who have cancer screenings in accordance with American Cancer Society guidelines.
The American Cancer Society's smoking cessation support program and the billboard campaign are funded, in part, by a grant from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services' Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program.
For more information about the American Cancer Society's efforts to fight cancer in the workplace, call 1-800-ACS-2345.
The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy and service. For more information about the American Cancer Society, call 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit its Web site at www.cancer.org.
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About Verizon Wireless
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